Background Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is responsible for the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently recommended screening all patients born between 1945–1965 (baby boomers) at least once for HCV infection. New York State has since mandated screening of baby boomers for HCV in nearly all patient care settings and encouraged it in the emergency department (ED). Objectives This pilot study aimed to ascertain acceptability of an HCV screening test among the 1945–1965 birth cohort presenting to the ED in advance of a study investigating the prevalence of HCV infection in this birth cohort in the ED setting. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study of health knowledge about HCV and government recommendations regarding HCV testing using a convenience sample of baby boomers in an ED in a large public hospital in the New York metropolitan area. Surveys were administered via a series of semistructured interviews. Results There were 81 patient participants. Fifty-two percent of patients were born outside of the United States, 69% had a high school diploma level of education or lower, and 37% were unemployed. Patients demonstrated misconceptions about HCV transmission and curability and poor knowledge about the necessity of testing in their age cohort. Knowledge that “HCV can cause the liver to stop working” was significantly associated with acceptance of testing. Conclusions Baby boomers showed limited knowledge about the necessity of HCV screening in their age group, but testing for HCV infection in the ED was acceptable for the majority.
- hepatitis C virus
- public health